The State Board of Elections voted Friday to hear election protests filed by two candidates for Durham County commissioner who say the March 15 primary was tainted by mishandled provisional ballots.
Incumbent Commissioner Michael Page and Elaine Hyman placed sixth and seventh, respectively, in the race for five seats.
“The whole election process was tainted,” said Page, who wants a new election held. “If there is a discrepancy with one ballot, I don’t trust it.”
A discrepancy, discovered after the local results were certified, suggests some provisional ballots went missing and staff members counted about 200 ballots twice to match how many eligible provisional ballots its records showed were cast.
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State election officials have said the provisional ballots wouldn’t change any local races. Page finished 1,093 votes behind James Hill, who won the fifth spot on the board. Hyman finished 787 votes behind Page.
Durham County Commissioner Brenda Howerton revealed recently that her life was threatened when the board was considering a zoning request for controversial development 751 South.
Howerton was one of the three commissioners who voted in 2009 to support Southern Durham Development’s plans for a 160-acre subdivision between N.C. 751 and Jordan Lake.
During that consideration process, Howerton, who is black, said people left her telephone messages with death threats and racial slurs.
Howerton received between two and 10 death threats during that time, she said. Howerton mentioned the threats to the sheriff, who advised her to let him know if she feared an actual attack.
“I just took it that whoever it was doing it was some coward that felt they had to be behind closed doors,” she said.
The death threats stopped, but the racial slurs continued in the years that followed, she said.
“It is unbelievable that because somebody wants to build something in the community, that instead of talking to people, that they call their elected officials, send emails and threaten their lives because of a vote,” Howerton said. “Whoever is listening that did that, I want them to hear my voice, because that is stuff that I thought we left in the ’60s, but it exists here in Durham. It existed in 2008. It existed when I ran in 2012, and it existed when I ran this time.”
Wake County and Raleigh residents will find out next week whether government leaders are considering raising their taxes.
During the Wake County Board of Commissioners meeting at 2 p.m. Monday, County Manager Jim Hartmann is scheduled to propose a county government budget for the fiscal year that starts in July.
At 1 p.m. Tuesday, Raleigh City Manager Ruffin Hall is scheduled to present his proposed spending plan to the City Council.
Raleigh and Wake County governments raised taxes last year, but elected officials haven’t said whether they plan to do the same this year.
▪ Dan Blue III, candidate for state treasurer, and Michael Morgan, candidate for N.C. Supreme Court, will speak to the Wake Senior Democrats on Wednesday, May 18, at the Crabtree Marriott. Meeting starts at 11 a.m. with lunch, followed by the program at 11:30 a.m.
Compiled by Virginia Bridges and Paul A. Specht.
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